“When the initial excitement settled, we felt like planning an entire wedding seemed really expensive, overwhelming, and exhausting.”
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From Overwhelmed + Discouraged to DREAM WEDDING | How We Did It
Let me back up …
My now-husband John proposed in the summer of 2009, at the end of a 3-week trip we took through Europe.
We were in Paris – our last stop – and we waited for hours to get to the lower platform of the Eiffel Tower, where he dropped to his knee with the sparking lights of the tower above us, and lit up city buildings & river boats in the distance.
We never even had dinner that night because it got so late, but you know how it is with the crazy excitement you felt on your engagement day – dinner didn’t even matter. We had just lived an incredibly powerful moment that was about to change our lives forever.
Within weeks, my ring was resized and fit perfectly. We had shared the news with literally everyone we knew, and we started discussions about potential venues and dates, and of course, the elephant in the room – how we would pay for everything.
* SPOILER ALERT * These conversations weren’t very productive, and we didn’t have any breakthrough revelations other than feeling like planning an entire wedding seemed really expensive, overwhelming, and exhausting.
My mom, sister & best friends were incredibly excited, and couldn’t wait to start planning showers, parties, dress shopping trips, and fun wedding projects.
But underneath all the buzz and excitement? There was this nagging discomfort / doubt / anxiety that I just couldn’t shake …
It had started as a passing thought, but was starting to grow bigger and harder to ignore.
This is when I started to realize that John and I had never even discussed our actual wedding ideas before getting engaged, and the logistics and finances of planning and hosting everything were already incredibly overwhelming –
And we really HADN’T EVEN GOTTEN STARTED, which multiplied that feeling by 10x.
The cost of living in San Diego was sky high (as it still is, everywhere). We were working really hard to advance in our careers so that we could do and have ALL the fun things.
We had some money saved, but not a ton … and we definitely didn’t “plan” to spill over onto credit cards to pay for our wedding (trust me, no one “plans” to).
So what did we do?
We shifted into a completely different mindset. We STOPPED looking at our wedding through the lens of tradition and “what everyone else is doing”, and we started thinking outside the box about ways we could create a truly unique experience for our loved ones that didn’t look like every wedding we had already been to. A wedding that wouldn’t be over in a matter of hours, and wouldn’t require tens of thousands of dollars or credit card debt to pay for.
Great, so we had made some progress, and we were SO EXCITED about the glimmer of a vision that was starting to come together … but all of the actual logistics were still hanging over us, like a heavy cloud.
Having a vision is one thing, but we had no idea what to focus on first ….
- A venue?
- Food & drinks?
- How do you know if you can afford one thing if you have no idea how much everything else costs?
- How do you make one decision knowing that it hinges on 27 other things that you can’t pin down right this moment?
Obviously I needed to find a wedding planner to help us sort out the next steps, because basic, you have to hire a wedding planner, right?
I met with a handful of planners who all walked confidently into the Starbucks or bistro bar, high heels clicking, portfolio ready to share – FFWD thru 3 days + 3 meetings, and none of them were LISTENING TO ME.
I talked about creative visions of fondue pots on small, intimate 4-top tables, renting a giant mansion for a long wedding weekend, hosting 3-4 separate parties & events, and having someone who could be there to organize and direct independently hired bartenders and servers and coordinate the weekend-of logistics for us.
And I was met with blank stare after blank stare.
Politely told that it wouldn’t work because of A, B, C reason, and had we considered cookie cutter venue D, E, and F which works with preferred vendors X, Y and Z?
The thought of paying someone thousands of dollars who clearly had no interest whatsoever in our wedding vision was clearly out of the question.
I came home literally crying after interviewing the third planner on my list – she cut me off repeatedly, actually laughed at my fondue idea saying it would be impossible, left me with a list of her preferred vendors and a deadline to decide by Friday or else she was booking another client.
And the bow on top is that she came highly recommended to me by a friend, which made the entire experience even more disappointing.
If you’ve ever met with a pushy vendor who’s so obviously just trying to book up their calendar as fast as possible, you know exactly what it feels like to have your ideas dismissed and to be completely unheard.
In that moment, John and I were left with a choice.
We could have eventually found an affordable enough venue, chosen the cheapest meal option, and gone broke paying for a top shelf open-bar (which incidentally, was one of John’s “wedding non-negotiables”).
We could have scrapped and saved and charged a few things on credit cards to bring it all together in a wedding that wouldn’t be the best of the best, and definitely wouldn’t be featured in any wedding magazines or blogs … but hopefully our friends & family wouldn’t be too judge-y and would understand the financial constraints of treating 100 of your closest loved ones to a nice dinner, bottomless drinks, and dancing.
We’d check off all the boxes, run through all the traditions, and at the end of the day, we’d be married. After all, wasn’t that the whole point?
And in that critical moment, thank goodness we woke up and saw that NO –
That’s not ANYWHERE NEAR THE POINT.
And I’m here today sharing this all with you because it scares the hell out of me to think of how close we were to NOT following our vision, and to just going through the motions, and I don’t want that for you.
And at the same time, it breaks my heart to think of how many engaged couples every single day are in the same position that we were, but who DON’T find the right resources and support and encouragement to follow their dream vision, and who aren’t lucky enough to go on to design the wedding that they truly want.
So back to the story – in this pivotal moment, John & I took a giant leap of faith, and committed to planning our wedding OUR WAY – to hell with narcissist wedding planners, cookie cutter checklists, outdated traditions, expectations, or worrying about what anyone else thought of our decisions.
We got on the same page with this mindset, and we had deep discussions about the things that were most important to us.
In the end, we rented a 7,000 square foot mansion, did our own catering – yes, we planned out, shopped for, and brought to life that giant fondue party that was so important to us – we spent 4 solid days hanging out with our 75 closest friends and family, eating, drinking, dancing, talking, staying up late, laughing, and we did it ALL for around $12,000 – for transparency sake, that was in 2010 so someone good at math and economics can adjust for inflation – or, you could trust the “inflation calculator” I found online and use the number $17,000 in today’s world. EITHER WAY, for the overall value and priceless experience for everyone involved, I’m going to stand firm in saying that’s pretty damn good!!!
The couples who give up on the new approach to planning that we focus on here on the Wedding Planning Podcast will likely stay stuck exactly where I was in the story I just told, after meeting with the awful 3rd wedding planner.
They’ll do exactly what most couples do, and freak out over how much there is to do, how much things cost, and how complicated it feels to go off the beaten path …
They’ll cave when someone is critical of a fun idea, and pull back when they feel judged for something that they did or didn’t do. John and I faced skeptical, judge-y eyes too many times to count throughout our entire planning process – but that’s another story, for another time.
And they’ll fall back to the status quo wedding planners, the big corporate websites, and the free checklists to plan a cookie cutter wedding for them, without ever even knowing the priceless opportunity that has slipped away.
The opportunity to design the wedding that YOU actually want, and to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with your loved ones that leaves a lasting sense of love & connection for decades to come.
And to miss out on that, is quite simply, heartbreaking.
But here’s the final, most important part of this very long email:
Unforgettable, life-changing weddings don’t just “happen”.
They don’t just magically arise from the mountain of printouts and free checklists, and magazines, budget calculators and Pinterest boards and reels that you consume on loop.
And just having a wedding vision isn’t enough, without continued support, encouragement, and ongoing direction.
The most meaningful & unforgettable wedding celebrations are planned carefully, ONE STEP AT A TIME using a 3-part framework that I’ve spent the past 12 years perfecting.
And the best part is that it’s all available for you to enjoy inside my signature planning package, The VAULT .
The VAULT isn’t like working with a traditional wedding planner, with contracts, deposits, balances due, and a set number of meetings and phone calls.
Membership unlocks access to a down-to-earth, easy to follow wedding master plan that gets to the heart of what truly makes a wedding UNFORGETTABLE and LIFE-CHANGING, for everyone involved.
And when you sign up today, you’ll even enjoy a 1-on-1, 20-Minute Wedding Strategy call each month that you’re a member.
I have literally NEVER offered this before, and I’m so excited to connect.
I can’t wait to see you there, and to learn more about you & your wedding!
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